Feedbag #1: Self-Reviews

Welcome to the first edition of the Feedbag! The goal of this column is to provide judges with a feedback resource, so that you have somewhere to go for help if you have questions about a review you’re writing or just want some general advice.

Riki’s focus has been on self-reviews lately, and fittingly our first Feedbag submission is on that topic as well. Dan Jackson writes,

“I was wondering if you had any advice or tips for a L2 working on their first self-review. I’ve taken a lot of notes on myself and gotten feedback from my peers, but I seem to struggle when writing everything up. I can’t seem to find the balance between over-hyping my skill set and bringing myself low from my areas of improvement.”

Dan was kind enough to share his self-review draft, and despite his concerns he’s on the right track. His self-review is a fair assessment of his strengths but doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to areas for improvement.

Many judges find self-reviews challenging because they don’t clearly identify a goal for the self-review. Why do you write a review for another judge? It should be to help them grow. Why do you write a self-review? It should be to help yourself grow in some way. Maybe you’re building toward L3 or maybe you just want to do some self-reflection, but you should be able to take something concrete away from your self-review, just like a judge should be able to take away something useful from a review you write them.

In his areas for improvement, Dan writes,

“Learning the philosophy of some of the decisions made in the judge program has been a learning experience, but I will admit to not fully understand all the reasons behind things.”

So, we have a goal: Dan acknowledges that his understanding of program philosophy is not great and wants to improve it. But what do we improve, and how do we do it?

I’ll assume the role of Bizarro-Dan here, and go a step further:

“I’m having trouble understanding the philosophy behind all the fixes and downgrade paths for Deck/Decklist Problems. I want to downgrade a lot of cases that I’ve been told I shouldn’t. I should look through old Knowledge Pool scenarios and see if there are any that can help me understand the distinctions I’m missing. I should also ask to be on more deck check teams to test my knowledge.”

Your self-review should be a gift from Past You to Future You. Past You needs to identify areas for improvement, but that’s just the first step. Past You also needs to be specific and find ways to improve that Future You can use as metrics. That way when Future You reads the self-review a year or two later, they’ll think, “Thanks, Past Me!” and not “Things were so different before Skynet…”

Please join me in thanking Dan for being willing to share something so personal. If you’d like to be featured on the next Feedbag, please contact me using the information here.

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